The boundary between your smartphone and your car is growing thinner by the day, and Jaguar Land Rover is the latest in a long line of car companies trying to work out the ideal balance between the two. The company's InControl Apps system has been in the works for months now, and we got to take a lot at their progress (in a spiffy new Range Rover Evoque, no less) at the New York International Auto Show. Here's how it works: after you load the companion app onto your Android device or iPhone (don't worry, the experience is the same for both), you connect it to your car via a USB port nestled in the center console. After that, your handset basically becomes inoperable, while all of your compatible apps appear on your car's display.
You can initiate phone calls and fire up your tunes just like on any other halfway decent infotainment system, but JLR has roped in a group of companies like Stitcher, Parkopedia and Sygic Maps to tailor their apps to the smallish screen. There's even something here for people who just can't stop working -- one partner app will read news stories aloud in a not-so-stilted approximation of a female voice, and yet another will help patch workaholics into their conference calls with a single touch.
Now crafting apps for cars is fine, but they're absolutely worthless if the process of using them is a headache. Thankfully, that doesn't seem to be the case here: popping between apps and pinching to zoom on Evoque's recessed touch display was surprisingly snappy. Was it utterly buttery smooth? No, but the whole thing was still a little more polished and thoughtful than we expected. Of course, this represents but one path in the appification of the automobile. Apple namechecked Jaguar Land Rover when it first started talking about bringing iOS into cars after all, so it shouldn't be too long before a boxy offroader starts playing nice with Siri.